Friday, November 13, 2015

The Leveller by Julia Durango

"I understand the temptation, I really do. But here's what happens. You get used to looking like a million bucks in the MEEP, and then...BAM! Game over. You're backslapped to reality and wake up with your same old blemishes, bedhead, and ratty sweatpants. All of a sudden you can't stand yourself. You've seen what your perfect self looks like in the MEEP, so when you look in the mirror now, all you see are your flaws.
You're just a sad, sorry replica of your pretend self.

Phoenix "Nixy" Bauer is a Leveller. Parents hire her to retrieve their children from the MEEP, a virtual reality gaming world. Gameplay is supposed to be limited, but cheats are available to play longer. When kids get too absorbed in the game, their parents sometimes need help getting them out. Nixy is just a lot cheaper than official Levellers. The job makes her unpopular with kids her age, but she has earned a good reputation among the parents. Her business motto is "Nixy Bauer, Home in an Hour."

Both of Nixy's parents work for the company that created the MEEP. The game's developer contacts Nixy in need of her skills. His son Wyn is lost in the game. Even worse, he left behind a suicide note. Many highly trained experts tried to get to him, but they all failed. Nixy is the last resort. If she doesn't get Wyn out, they will reset the system. Anybody using illegal codes could be physically affected, possibly resulting in brain damage or coma.

Nixy works her way through the maze between her and Wyn. It takes a long time and some clever strategy. Eventually, she finds Wyn only to realize that he is being held captive. To make matters worse, Nixy is now trapped as well. They have to figure out who is holding them and why in order to escape. 

The Leveller was pretty fun. It's got a lot of video game action, and there's a nice little romance between Nixy and Wyn. I liked Nixy, even though her name is kind of silly. She was funny and I like how hardcore she is. It will be interesting to see what new adventures await in the yet unnamed sequel.

I received my copy of The Leveller from Edelweiss, courtesy of Harper Collins. It's available for purchase now.

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